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Tibetan Mastiff

 Photo of Tibetan Mastiff
Photo: World, Int and Fr Champion Chortens Ben Sharbaz,

Tibetan Mastiff Books

Group: Working - Breed Standard


An ancient breed going back over 2,500 years and originating from Tibet, some historians believe that the Tibetan Mastiff was the predecessor of the other Mastiff breeds known today. Tibetan Mastiffs were used to guard entrances to monasteries and the homes of noblemen, as well as by nomads to guard their encampments. However, they were not primarily livestock guardians, that was the job of the Himalayan or Tibetan Sheep Dog. The Tibetan Mastiff was also known as the Dho Kyi, which means "tied dog".


A minimum height of 66cms (26ins) in dogs and 61 cms (24ins) in bitches is desirable.

An impressive, well built dog with good bone, the Tibetan Mastiff should be large, powerful, heavy and very muscular, and should should never be refined or lacking in substance.The head is massive, being fairly broad, heavy and strong. The eyes are of medium size and very expressive. Ears also of medium size, a triangular pendant carried low and hanging close to the head, but raised when the dog is alert. Their well feathered tail is set high and carried curled over the back and to one side. Their powerful movement is free and deliberate, tending to converge to single track when moving at speed, but appearing slow and deliberate when walking. Their coat is fairly long and thick, with a heavy undercoat in cold weather, which is shed in warmer weather.The males have a heavier coat than bitches, but it is the quality that is more important than quantity. The predominant colour is Black and Tan, but solid black, grey, with or without tan, and gold dogs are also frequently seen. Colour should always be secondary to type.


Most Tibetan Mastiffs are good natured, enjoy being part of a family's life, and make good family pets. However, they are very strong willed and head strong, which means they require a lot of understanding. Whilst devoted and loyal to their family, they are rather aloof and often distrusting of strangers until they are satisfied that the person is okay. They often relate better to one person in a household and tend to be more independent than very affectionate. Good socialising and training is a must. Whilst growing up, a few are rather unsure of themselves and prefer to stay in places they know best.

Breed Health

Whilst Tibetan Mastiffs in the USA appear to have a number of health problems, these are not believed to be a problem in the UK. High hip scores have been found over the years and it is suggested that scoring for Hip Dysplasia is carried out by breeders, as well as eye testing for PRA, although PRA is not currently a problem within the breed. Bitches come into season just once a year. Average lifespan is 10+ years.

Breed Care

Tibetan Mastiffs will moult their heavy undercoat once a year in the spring. This is a very heavy moult and during this time they should be brushed regularly to remove the dead hair. An industrial vacuum cleaner helps clean up the hairs!


One medium length walk a day is ample. Puppies and young dogs must never be over exercised.


They are very intelligent and learn quickly. However, being independent they tend to think for themselves and cannot always understand why they are being asked to do a particular thing and therefore will not do it. A lot of patience is required and they are only obedient if it pleases them to be so! See our books on training

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Last link added: 18 Jan, 2006